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Nelly Korda has had an eventful 2021, becoming the first golfer to win a major and Olympic gold in the same year.

The American phenom stopped by the Just Women’s Sports podcast to talk with host Kelley O’Hara about her journey to the Olympics, something she once thought was impossible.

Korda remembers watching the Summer and Winter Olympics with her family growing up, but never imagining competing in the Games herself. “I never thought I would have the opportunity to get to go play because 2016 was the first year that golf was played in the Olympics,” Korda says. “I grew up focusing more on the majors.”

Then, one of Korda’s greatest professional dreams came true when she clinched the KMPG Women’s PGA Championship back in June. “I won my major and was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing. Like, I’ve worked my entire life for this,’” she recalls. “After the major, that event is when I qualified for the Olympics.”

The 23-year-old says she didn’t really know what to expect in Tokyo, since the Olympics were unchartered territory for her.

“You don’t really get to represent your country so much and I love doing it. It’s so much fun,” she says.

Golf’s unforgiving schedule played a role in Korda’s limited preparation for Tokyo, making the trip even more of a whirlwind. She remembers playing a major right before the Olympics and focusing solely on that tournament before gearing up for the Games.

“Finally, the week of Olympics it kind of set in,” Korda says. “I was flying over to Japan, I was unboxing all my USA gear. It was super cool.”

While Korda was able to tour the Olympic Village once, COVID-19 protocols curbed the full Olympic experience, including on the course.

“With it being such a big year for golf in Japan we were expecting a lot, a lot, a lot of fans, so that was kind of a bummer that we didn’t have the fans there,” Korda says. “But there’s so many people that volunteered, it was insane. I heard there were 3,000-4,000 people that volunteered.”

When it came time to receive her gold medal, Korda says the moment took her by surprise.

“Honestly, nothing like standing on a podium,” she says. “I didn’t really know what to think of it. I just watched it on TV and was kind of envious of the people that got to compete in the Olympics.

“There was just a huge surge of emotions going through me once I got to stand on the podium.”

Listen to Korda’s full conversation with Kelley O’Hara about the Tokyo Olympics on the Just Women’s Sports podcast.